Feeds

AFP terrifies MPs with ‘net pr0n tales

Plod is really plodding today

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

According to a story in the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Federal Police has warned a group of Australian parliamentarians that the country’s planned National Broadband Network (NBN) will “make it harder” for them to “track people downloading and sharing child pornography”.

The AFP has warned the parliamentarians that too many service providers and service bundling are the problem. Triple-play services (with TV, Internet and broadband under a single account) are particularly terrifying, apparently.

When misinformation is on such a sprint, it’s hard to know where to start the chase.

Bundling, for example, isn’t new. If you wanted a triple-play service today, you would wrap everything together under a Telstra account. Or you might settle just for Internet TV services offered by a number of ISPs, who also (coincidentally) offer telephone services.

Second, the number of service providers in Australia is falling and is likely to fall further when the NBN is rolled out. Our host of small ISPs is partly a legacy of dial-up days, when localization made a lot of good sense. The market has consolidated rapidly in recent times, with iiNet CEO Mike Malone quoted as saying 200 providers had exited the market in the last couple of years.

If for no other reason, the adjustments needed to live in an NBN world will probably be too much for a marginal provider with only a thousand customers.

Next, there’s the question of anonymity. In responding to the AFP’s discussion, some Senators seem to think that the NBN will somehow make customers more anonymous than they are now. This is complete nonsense.

Let’s look at the path between customer and the Internet: the NBN will connect to a specific home (with a specific home-owner or tenant); that connection will deliver services from one or more service providers, each of whom will know the customer who is using their services.

Apart from speed, the NBN doesn’t change much about the relationship between different layers of the network. Today, the Layer 2 connection is (mostly) delivered over ADSL, and is then handed to the ISP to handle Layer 3 services. The NBN merely replaces this with fibre.

So just how anonymous is an IP address that’s associated with a physical port? Exactly no more or less anonymous than it is today.

What on Earth prompted the AFP to talk such nonsense to the group “Parliamentarians Against Child Abuse”?

One answer could be that the AFP didn’t: that the information came from the audience, not the AFP, and got scrambled on the way out. Note, for example, that the only direct quote from the AFP was fairly neutral (and attributed only to a nameless spokesperson). Most of the other quotes came from Senator Bill Heffernan, who was in the audience.

So it’s quite feasible that the presentation was scrambled in between the AFP and the Fairfax press – and because the journalist Richard Willingham is just another political reporter in the swarm, he lacked the means to question the information.

The other explanation is more sinister: that the AFP is trying to scare politicians – picking out an audience that can be expected to be receptive to tales of the Big Bad Internet – to further its own agenda.

Australia is already considering adopting data retention laws in line with the European Data Directive. Parliament has also made it easier for ASIO to share information with other agencies, in legislation that was supported by the AFP.

So it’s hardly surprising that with a new network on the way, the AFP would start tilling the soil and planting the seeds that might one day yield a fine crop of new interception and wiretap powers. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
MI6 oversight report on Lee Rigby murder: US web giants offer 'safe haven for TERRORISM'
PM urged to 'prioritise issue' after Facebook hindsight find
BT said to have pulled patent-infringing boxes from DSL network
Take your license demand and stick it in your ASSIA
Right to be forgotten should apply to Google.com too: EU
And hey - no need to tell the website you've de-listed. That'll make it easier ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.